Another look at charismatics, 12 years later

Looking back on the points made 27 years ago by Charismatics at Geneva, I can only feel a great sadness. For I look at the landscape of what had then been the the robust, energetic Charismatic movement, and what is there now, the mainline part of it becoming either spent (Lutherans, for example) or reshaped and tamed in a manner better suited for the powers-that-be (like Catholics and Methodists). The ‘Third Wave’ part of it isn’t in much better shape, for while there are many congregations within it that are better than ever, the overall impression is that they’ve lost their vision, and are being blended into a veriety of new mini-movements, or are being taken up by some larger movements that have little to do with following Christ.

I’ll use the points from Geneva that I addressed 12 years ago as a starting point. When I do this, please remember that I am an outside observer, a mainstream Christian who is clearly not (by nearly all of the movement’s own self-definitions) a charismatic, and never has been. I am simply a believer in Christ who insists on being in dialogue with a movement that, even at this stage, is still the main shaping force for many millions of Christians the world over. A believer in Christ who believes that mainstream Christian leaders are still seriously shirking their responsibility as Christians by choosing not to be in real dialogue with them.

In 1980, Charismatics at one of their many conferences saw a series of marks of the Spirit that they believed were present in their movements. These included :

  • New openness toward the healing power
    and the lordship of Jesus;
  • Renewal of spiritual life of the church in
    local congregations;
  • Spontaneity, openness, freedom and joy in
    praise and worship;
  • New interest in the Bible as God’s living
    Word;
  • Deeper experience of the reality, holiness,
    and transcendence of God;
  • Deeper interest and new openness in regard
    to the essential doctrines of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, his
    death and resurrection, confirmed in experience;
  • Renewal of the service of healing for the
    sick;
  • Lay leadership;
  • New incentive for evangelization, missions
    and witness in the power of the Spirit.

I’ll be going over these in upcoming weeks.

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